Caron’s Sunday Selection: Must-read articles from the Sunday papers

sundaypapsHere’s my selection of articles to inform, infuriate and inspire from this week’s Sunday papers.

First up this week is a piece from the Observer by Barbara Ellen. Its headline “Like all rapists, Ched Evans will never be really free” got my hackles up, but the article itself is a bit more balanced than its headline suggests. It’s worth remembering, though, that most rapists go unpunished because the conviction rate is scarily low. Ellen says that Evans will never be able to leave this crime behind him, much more so than if he’d been convicted of a different sort of offence. Well, given that the man has shown not one tiny bit of remorse for what he did, or accepted that his victim, being as drunk as she was, was incapable of consenting to what he put her through, or apologised to her, I’m not sure that we can say with any confidence that he has been rehabilitated.  The speed with which he has been given a new high profile football job concerns me as does the way that the media often tries to make excuses for men who are violent to women. It’s not just Evans. Oscar Pistorius comes in for way more sympathy than he actually deserves. In September, a Texas man murdered his 3 young children and his wife before turning the gun on himself. Much of the media coverage around this mentioned the strain he must have been under, rather than the horros he put his family through. This article sums up why that approach is just wrong. 

Also in the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley makes the point that both Tory and Labour MPs might look wistfully to alternative leaders called Johnson, but the real problem is that the old binary political system in this country is becoming a thing of the past.

They’ve gone, the solid blocks of red and blue voters that the major party leaders used to be able to mobilise. There has been a decades-long decline in the blue-red duopoly. It is the bad luck of Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband to be leaders of their parties when the music finally stopped.

That is why the Tory and Labour leaders can be simultaneously unpopular with the voters. That is why they can both be in trouble with their parties at the same time. That is why two parties accustomed to thinking of themselves as winners are gripped by mirroring terrors that they are led by losers. That is why, rather than confront the brutal truth that assembling convincing majorities may now be beyond either of them, they seek refuge from reality in dreaming of fantasy leaders.

Still sticking with the Observer, they have a pretty balanced and sensible editorial on the offer by Apple and Facebook to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs and so delay the decision to have children. It makes the point that while this is part of the debate about combining motherhood with career, there is no such debate about caring for elderly parents, something which falls mainly to women. And it also talks about the culture in these technology companies and what this might mean about their motivations in their offer:

Yet the culture at Silicon Valley firms is often criticised for being macho and misogynistic. Investment bank-style 90-hour weeks can be the norm. Parent-friendly benefit packages are a good thing but they cannot replace a company’s commitment to tackle the frat-boy college cultures that are positively encouraged by many firms through the provision of other perks such as helicopter rides and Nerf gun fights. Male attitudes towards settling down and having children too often go uncommented on, as if having children is solely the product of female preferences and attitudes.

I wonder if this, and Branson’s recent announcement that his employees can take unlimited leave are just another way to heap additional pressure on employees. Branson’s statement that people wouldn’t want to take time off if they were letting their colleagues down or not up to date with their work was very telling. His offer was not as generous as it sounds.

Scotland on Sunday’s leader highlights the problems facing the Scottish Labour party. They’ve missed out the alarming lack of organisation in their heartlands which meant that they had difficulty even finding enough people to stand on polling stations on the day of the referendum. In seats where they have MPs. The paper outlines some of the party’s failings:

…a tin ear for the concerns and hopes of Scottish voters at a time of austerity and growing national self-belief; the poor quality of leadership within Scottish Labour, first under the lacklustre Iain Gray and now under the uncharismatic Johann Lamont; the complacency with which the party approached the independence ­referendum, which turned in the final weeks to blind and bewildered panic; the grudging ­paucity of the party’s offering to the Scottish people on more powers for Holyrood; a blind hatred of the SNP, which manifests itself in a Pavlovian rejection of all its policies, regardless of their worth or popularity; a crisis of confidence about seeing Labour as the natural party of Scottish home rule, for fear of sounding ­“nationalist”; a seemingly endless capacity for infighting, usually based on personality and self-interest rather than ideology or principle; and, most recently, an inability to come up with a coherent and agenda-grabbing way of engaging with the Smith Commission.

Liberal Democrat peer Ken MacDonald gets a name check in the Independent in a report about the idea that people who go off and fight with ISIS should be charged with treason. A terrorism expert dismisses it and suggests a more sophisticated approach while Ken describes it as a “juvenile solution to a grown-up problem”.

In the same paper, Katy Guest echoes my own feelings about the guy who was trapped in a bookshop. Pure jealousy. You can bet your life I wouldn’t have been drawing attention to myself. I’d have put my feet up and had a good read.

Scotland may be about to get its first female First Minister, and three party leaders (four if you count Maggie Chapman as co-convener of the Greens) are women, but there’s still a long way to go for gender equality in public life, says the Herald.

So, there’s my choice. What’s grabbed your attention?

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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4 Comments

  • Has Evans been given a new job? Genuine question as the last i heard Sheffield Utd had denied they had employed him. I have mixed views on this as whilst I feel the sentence to have been too lenient for anyone found guilty of rape (which is always a crime of violence) it has been served and any anger at that should be pointed to the system not the offender. Once a sentence for any crime is served, I believe in allowing people to reintegrate into their lives with exceptions only where risk is identified which should the be a matter for the probation authorities.

    I also have a bit of a problem with his apparent need to admit his guilt i order to reintegrate. Like most people I have no knowledge of the detail of his case or indeed what new evidence has now been submitted. I do think that we have had far too many miscarriages of justice that have been identified after someone has served their sentence to make early release and the ability to reintegrate contingent on acceptance of guilt.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 19th Oct '14 - 3:28pm

    I think the evidence from the CCTV footage is sufficient that the girl was so drunk that she simply was not capable of consent.

    I think there has to be acknowledgement that he committed a serious crime before he can be considered to not be a risk any more. And why is he appealing now? He’s had 2.5 years.

    I also think that going back to a high profile footballing job at all in the immediate future should not be an option. People have come out of prison and not returned to their previous occupations for much less harmful offences.. We can think of some within the Liberal Democrats. The attitude shown by Evans’ supporters on social media has been appalling. While he can’t be held responsible, if he’s going to be talking to the press anyway, he could take the opportunity to condemn what some have done on his behalf.

  • paul barker 19th Oct '14 - 5:11pm

    I would reccomend the Andrew Rawnsley piece in The Guardian, on the yearning for Fantasy Leaders in both Labour & Conservative Parties. Couldnt happen in The Libdems of course……
    Slightly off topic, Dan Hodges had a good article a few days ago : Things are bad for Labour – but …
    Actually Mathew Dancona has a piece on a similar topic today, also in The Telegraph : These pointless plots……

  • David Allen 19th Oct '14 - 5:44pm

    “I would reccomend the Andrew Rawnsley piece in The Guardian, on the yearning for Fantasy Leaders in both Labour & Conservative Parties. Couldnt happen in The Libdems of course……”

    Well, that’s one of your better comments paul barker, but I’m going to take issue with it all the same. The point Rawnsley is making is that the two major parties are weighed down by the economic depression, by their record of failure, and by the discredited ideological baggage they both still carry.

    Rawnsley doesn’t say anything about any other parties, for the very good reason that they aren’t weighted down in the same way. Nigel Farage (admittedly not governing anything) attracts genuine enthusiasm from voters; Alex Salmond (who does govern) is also highly popular; and Natalie Bennett’s Greens are quietly moving ahead too. There’s only one of the smaller parties, in fact, which is failing to profit from the problems the larger parties face. That’s us, and the idea that a new leader could change things for us is not a fantasy!

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